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July 4th, 2011
11:22 AM ET

Atheists explain flying ad campaign

On the Fourth of July across the U.S., American Atheists are taking to skies with a flying banner ad campaign.

They will be flying over busy holiday hot spots like beaches and parks with banners that read: "Atheism is Patriotic" and "God-LESS America."

Some pilots balked and would not fly the banner ads. 

Justin Jaye of Fly Signs Aerial Advertising, told the Belief Blog last week,  "I've been in this business for 20 years and I've never run into so much resistance on people flying," Jaye said. "I've had pilots who are actual atheists who said, 'Justin, I am an atheist and I won't fly it because I can't wear a bulletproof vest.'"

In the video above, Rick Wingrove from the Virginia chapter of American Atheists explains to CNN's T.J. Holmes more about the campaign and why they picked the Fourth of July.

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- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Atheism • Belief • Content Partner • Faith • TV-CNN Newsroom • United States

soundoff (1,760 Responses)
  1. Leighton

    Aethiests define coming of age doctrines first than apply reason. Christianity is very non-standard with it's exploitations. You don't win arguments with the illiterate Christians. You marginalize their conversations. Christians aren't interested in variations of tier own interpretations. Really no Dialog is possible. Their pastors deserve contempt and hostility I make no apologies for insulting this unreasonable CULT OF Baptist

    July 4, 2011 at 4:19 pm |
    • Eric P

      Amen. Religion discourages free thought. This is undeniable and any believer who disagrees is in denial. HOWEVER, you have failed as an atheist if you can't, at least, understand why so many people WANT to believe their is a Creator. I know there isn't some benevolent deity watching over us, but I also understand mankind's deep desire to be loved and/or be cared about. The reality is that no such figure exists to love or care for any of us and that's why people have created this fantasy...because that's just easier than helping each other out. That's my opinion, but I really haven't seen any behavior by fellow humans to suggest I'm wrong.

      July 4, 2011 at 4:37 pm |
    • johno

      This is not so much about Christianity as it is about giving thanks to an unseen omnipotent being who has given you the facility of this dispensation that you call life. If you understand that then you would realise that Christianity, Islam etc are just routes that leads to the proverbial road to Rome.
      Those of us who call ourselves atheist and even Christians should ask, do i want to face such a being wrapped in ermines of ignorance if you should be required to give an account of your stewardship.

      July 4, 2011 at 5:19 pm |
  2. Jesus Cristo

    There is NO PROOF I EXIST! Ask me to convert your water to wine and you will see nothing will happen... NOTHING

    July 4, 2011 at 4:19 pm |
  3. David M.

    If there is no God, why do Athiests spend so much time and energy trying to prove it? Why do you bother?

    July 4, 2011 at 4:18 pm |
    • Jesus Cristo

      Blind it is the other way around...

      July 4, 2011 at 4:20 pm |
    • istj04@yahoo.com

      Atheists don't have to "prove" anything! You are the one with the delusional belief in the invisible, non-tangable, sky deity! Atheists win the "proof" argument by DEFAULT every single time, since the burden of proving the EXISTENCE of YOUR SKY FAIRY IS ON YOU! EACH AND EVERY TIME!

      July 4, 2011 at 4:21 pm |
    • Jay

      Because so many, many people do. And those people are real, and what they do and say affects our lives.

      July 4, 2011 at 4:22 pm |
    • AirborneMedic/FirefighterParamedic

      David, the burden of proof is on the Theists. Atheists and Agnostics claim nothing. If nothing else it lets people know that there are like minded people out there.

      July 4, 2011 at 4:22 pm |
    • David M.

      The athiests are the ones flying the banners and putting up billboards. What are they afraid of? And no, the athiests don't win the argument by default. Proof requires tangible evidence. Neither side can produce that, so it becomes a matter of what you believe. Simple as that. I just find it interesting that athiests work very hard at trying to disprove God. I think they are hoping they are right, but scared they are wrong.

      July 4, 2011 at 4:25 pm |
    • RichardSRussell

      David, proof OF AN ASSERTION requires evidence. But we atheists are not asserting anything. You guys are. The burden of proof is on you to show that your God (a) exists and (b) is the only possible hypothesis that can explain the phenomena attributed to him.

      July 4, 2011 at 4:29 pm |
    • Qrius

      David M is a total jerkwad dumb-ass. But his mother loves him, so we won't toss him off a cliff today.

      July 4, 2011 at 4:42 pm |
    • Kdog

      It's human nature. They want what others have and it makes them angry.

      July 4, 2011 at 5:17 pm |
    • Scott

      Because the theists keep coming after me. Remember Howard Camping? and his caravans, and posters and billboard and his in your face advertising and his in your face followers? What part of "in my face" don't you understand?

      July 6, 2011 at 6:12 pm |
  4. Eric P

    I honestly don't care what people believe. I don't believe in God at all. It's nonsense. But I don't know why atheists and Christians alike find it necessary to proclaim to everyone their beliefs. I only take issue with Christians (or Muslims...or Jews...or Buddhists...or anyone, actually) who feel it is their duty to proclaim their faith and somehow feel as if it's wrong to not believe. I certainly don't think all Christians are like the nutjobs that reside down South, just like I don't think most atheists don't have any desire to proclaim how there isn't a God at all. The fact of the matter is, it's your opinion that there is a God just as it is your opinion that there isn't one. Neither side can prove their case, so both sides should just shut up. Religionists and vigorous non-believers ruin life for everyone else. I think all of them are some of the most miserable, unhappy, ignorant, uneducated people on earth and would appreciate if they just locked themselves in their homes.

    July 4, 2011 at 4:18 pm |
    • Qrius

      Atheists can prove their side of it ANY GOD-DAMN DAY OF THE WEEK! But religious people HAVE NEVER DONE THIS.

      July 4, 2011 at 4:44 pm |
    • Scott

      Well ya' know , I think you've got a good idea; but, have ya' noticed that for all the christian demands that creationism be given equal time in science class in schools, there are very, very few atheists demanding that evolution be given equal time in church? Or look at the abortion discussion, they demand we don't, do we demand they must?

      July 6, 2011 at 7:26 pm |
  5. RichardSRussell

    More research results: The CNN nannybot also appears not to like the word s c u m (which, incidentally, I was using to refer to the way some people view atheists like me, not an epithet I was applying to someone else).

    July 4, 2011 at 4:16 pm |
    • cubiksrube

      Hey Mr. Russell!! Prove me your existence! I think "you" are just a teapot between Mars and Jupiter! :o)

      July 4, 2011 at 4:18 pm |
    • David M.

      Hey cubiksrube, whom shall we say is asking?

      July 4, 2011 at 4:21 pm |
    • RichardSRussell

      Shhhlh. I really AM, but this is my secret i d e n t i t y. Don't blow my cover, dude!

      July 4, 2011 at 4:23 pm |
  6. Flashdog2

    I for one am glad some of these people believe in God. There are the ones that need a boogeyman to keep them in line. Those of us that are intelligent and ask questions generally don't need such nonsense. Some of the worst people I know claim to be Christian.

    July 4, 2011 at 4:16 pm |
    • Jeplin

      Well said..

      July 4, 2011 at 4:17 pm |
    • elgeevz

      Amen!

      July 4, 2011 at 4:20 pm |
  7. James

    Sorry to tell you that there is no heaven, but the good news is that there is no hell either. No angels. Nobody waiting for you when you get there such as friends or family. When you die, it's the same as an ant that dies, it's dead, that's it. We are no different than any other creature. It is a feeling that was taught to us & we believed, without much thought. Well, look at scientific evidence to the contrary. Those who do not believe is around 8-10% of the populace and growing.

    As man becomes more educated and truly begins to think and contemplate and to doubt and begin to wonder & ask questions, he ultimately begins to reason that there could not be a "God". Many, many learned and highly intelligent people do not believe. In fact, intellectuals & scientists for the most part do not believe. Many who go to church do not believe. Church is a gathering place for those of similar beliefs and backgrounds to mingle and feel like they are doing "what is right". The rest of the week, many of those same people are cutthroats, backstabbers, hypocrites, and simply act just like all the rest. There should be no tax exempt status, especially when churches have properties & funds in order to make money.

    July 4, 2011 at 4:15 pm |
    • cubiksrube

      It's good you're dismantling the whole thing for you! Just wait till you get to the bottom of it though, when it gets down to "you". That's when things get hairy.
      There's still the bone in the bull. There is still the child in the bathtub.
      Keep your awareness up. You'll see.

      July 4, 2011 at 4:21 pm |
  8. Tex71

    This is not a very good move by American Atheists. Baiting fundamentalist hicks may be fun, but it is counterproductive and shows a lack of patience and goodwill, both admirable qualities in an atheist who hopes to convert the faithful.
    Even the pilots (surely atheists) might be tempted to pray for safekeeping in this nation where a significant percentage of the population mixes religious fanaticism, sub-average intelligence, and an affinity for assault rifles – and the inability to distinguish theology from patriotic fervor.

    July 4, 2011 at 4:15 pm |
    • Mike X

      Lack of patience? We've been waiting over 2,000 years...

      July 4, 2011 at 4:17 pm |
    • Jeplin

      You must be christian.. I guess you would probably shoot them in the name of GOD. Religion is a form of manipulation created during the days of unintelligent people who believed in many crazy things and killed for it. I guess Santa Clause is real to. Of course not but whats the difference.. Faith.. Okay .. The number of Atheist are rising among the young.

      July 4, 2011 at 4:23 pm |
    • Tex71

      MikeX,
      Atheism is a fairly new philosophy, it never having occurred to anyone until recently to doubt the existence of the afterlife etc. Before the rise of established religion over the past 6,000 – 8,000 years, it was not necessary to be an atheist because nobody cared what you believed anyway. Your mention of 2,000 years is surely a reference to Christianity, although you seem to ignore the fact that Christianity was itself a counterculture until around CE 300 and effectively left pagans alone until the Inquisition, from around the 14th to the 18th century. The Enlightenment was pretty much the beginning of the social discussion between religion and atheism, so you really have not been waiting for more than a couple of centuries, tops. Anyway, my point was that if you want to criticize the intolerant, you at least have to be better than they are or call yourself a hypocrite.
      Be Blessed

      July 4, 2011 at 4:34 pm |
    • Frogist

      @Tex71: You've assumed this is about baiting fundies and converting people, when the stated goal is to counter the image that atheists are unpatriotic. Can we really break it down to riling up the Christians if it's just a statement of who atheists are? Unpopular speech is always inflammatory simply because it's not popular. Does it mean we all hold our tongues just because it goes against the norm?

      July 5, 2011 at 6:01 pm |
  9. RichardSRussell

    Why do I, as an atheist, choose to spend my time and money promoting atheism in the 21st Century? For the same reason I would have been an abolitionist in the 19th, or a suffragist in the 20th. For the same reason I supported the civil-rights and gay-rights movements. Because we, as citizens of a free country, should be TREATED as free people and not have OUR government choosing sides against us.

    July 4, 2011 at 4:14 pm |
  10. Will

    NRen2K5,

    You're right. I am the most selfish person I know. What great mercy I'm shown and continue to be shown.
    Thank you for pointing this out to me, so I could remember this love and mercy. I pray that you'd be similarly blessed.

    Donna,

    You're right. I guess that was more a series of some statements with some rhetorical questions mixed in. It's funny how quickly I'll hit that "Post" button when I could have taken an extra 30 seconds to proofread.
    We do get to decide how we'll spend out time–I agree with you there.

    July 4, 2011 at 4:14 pm |
    • Donna

      When they don't allow you to edit, we shouldn't be held to that strict of standards. ; ) I was just having trouble figuring out what your question was.

      July 4, 2011 at 5:20 pm |
  11. Doc Vestibule

    Atheism is a negative statement that says only what one does NOT believe.
    It does not imply any behaviours, morals, or characteristics whatsoever.

    I am a naturalist who believes that there is no existence save that which we experience directly (ie: no spiritual realm). I am also a rational anarchist who knows that concepts such as ‘state’ and ‘society’ and ‘government’ have no existence save as physically exemplified in the acts of self-responsible individuals.
    I hold that it is impossible to shift, share, or distribute blame . . . as blame, guilt, responsibility etc. are matters taking place inside human beings singly and nowhere else. Therefore, we should be rational and realize that not everyone will share the same evaluations of good and evil. We must try to live perfectly in an imperfect world, aware that our efforts will be less than perfect while trying to remain undismayed by self knowledge of failure.
    To me, that concept is central to Christianity. Jesus taught that we are all imperfect and must struggle all our lives to better ourselves. He gave His life to rid humanity of poisonous guilt for the sins of our fathers. He erased old enmities for us. In Christianity, mankind was given a clean slate with which to move forward in peace, charity and love.
    I believe that the vast majority of Christians lose sight of this core principle and get lost in sectarian dogma, arguing mythological minutiae.
    In the end, the definition of Christian is to live your life in the image of Jesus Christ.
    Faith in miracles, divinity, resurrections, and other fantastical flourishes isn't required to live a life of pacifism, charity and humility.

    July 4, 2011 at 4:13 pm |
    • Tex71

      Doc, a Christian thanks you for your lucidity and good will. Your take on essential Christianity is pretty much the same as mine. While I believe in a reality beyond the material, I agree that the proof is in the pudding no matter what the philosophy might be regarding the nature of pudding-ness.
      Be blessed in whatever way suits your individual nature.

      July 4, 2011 at 4:21 pm |
    • RichardSRussell

      "Faith in miracles, divinity, resurrections, and other fantastical flourishes isn't required to live a life of pacifism, charity and humility."

      Neither is belief in Jesus, either as a divinity or a merely human role model. Pacifism, charity, and humility are perfectly defensible in and of themselves, without having to appeal to any external authority for validation.

      July 4, 2011 at 4:34 pm |
  12. Jeplin

    Finally someone is standing up for atheist. If any one religious has anything to say about it. They should review their banners. I have seen many God banners on the holidays.

    July 4, 2011 at 4:13 pm |
  13. Serge Auclair

    Science and objectivity tell us that it takes a lot more faith to be an atheist than a believer.

    July 4, 2011 at 4:11 pm |
    • Jon

      That must be that good religious 'science' I hear about sometimes.

      July 4, 2011 at 4:15 pm |
    • Isaac

      wow that's some funny christian science it sounds like... the same "science and objectivity" that uses "because it says so in the bible" to explain the creation of the universe.

      July 4, 2011 at 4:21 pm |
    • Free

      Can you explain that Serge, or is it just one of those wise-sounding sayings that Christians circulate and hope is taken at face value?

      July 4, 2011 at 4:30 pm |
    • RichardSRussell

      Since "faith" means "belief in something the utter absence of evidence for it", atheism can't depend on faith, since atheism is the ABSENCE of a belief, not the presence of one.

      July 4, 2011 at 4:36 pm |
    • RichardSRussell

      Oops. ... "belief in something DESPITE the utter absence of evidence for it" ...

      July 4, 2011 at 4:38 pm |
  14. Willowspring

    Sorry, I meant to write "there" are zealots...

    July 4, 2011 at 4:10 pm |
    • P

      Free,

      Yes, I would argue it does. To hold the belief that something does or doesn't exist when it can't be proven either way requires faith.

      July 4, 2011 at 4:26 pm |
    • Free

      P
      So, you are telling me that despite our genius for inventing all sorts of fictional creatures, you cannot be absolutely certain that any of them isn't actually real?

      Tell me, are you really prepared to estimate God's being real as being on the same level as the Minotaur, or Centaurs? You can't prove that either of them isn't, or wasn't real either, but I doubt that you worry much about running into one in the woods, right?

      Fair enough. We can't be 'absolutely' certain of anything not being imaginary then. Any character supposedly invented by an author could be real as well. The problem with that line of thinking, however, is that almost every other fictional character isn't plagued by the kinds of inconsistencies and incongruence that God is plagued with, but what do you expect from a character that has had more writers than Dr. Who, Robin Hood, Dracula, and Santa Clause combined?

      July 4, 2011 at 4:54 pm |
  15. P

    I find it interesting that atheists exercise the same level of faith (if not more) in saying "there is no God" as Christians exercise in saying "there is a God".

    How then, are they so convinced there is no God when they attack Christians for saying there is one??

    July 4, 2011 at 4:09 pm |
    • Jon

      Atheism is the position 'I do not believe that there is a god'. This is NOT the same as 'I believe that there is NO god.'

      These are no the same thing. One is a NULL position while the other is a positive assertion. You have been misinformed.

      July 4, 2011 at 4:13 pm |
    • P

      No sir (Jon), you are actually misinformed. What you call an atheist is an agnostic.

      July 4, 2011 at 4:15 pm |
    • Jon

      Nope, and agnostic is someone who believes that we CANNOT know if a god/gods exist. That is a separate issue entirely.

      July 4, 2011 at 4:16 pm |
    • P

      a·the·ist   
      [ey-thee-ist] Show IPA
      –noun
      a person who denies or disbelieves the existence of a supreme being or being

      dictionary.com. This was my original definition.

      July 4, 2011 at 4:19 pm |
    • Isaac

      The gods that atheists are referring to when we say that are the gods that have been invented by human beings..... you know the ones with 10 rules to follow and all that nonsense.

      July 4, 2011 at 4:20 pm |
    • P

      Isaac, please see the above definition of an atheist from the dictionary. If you aren't really an atheist then you shouldn't call yourself one in my opinion.

      July 4, 2011 at 4:22 pm |
    • Free

      P
      Does it take any faith to dismiss Apollo being real? Atheists just don't discriminate between gods. All are equally unlikely.

      July 4, 2011 at 4:23 pm |
    • Jon

      Fair enough, from that and the Wikipedia page it looks like both definitions are of proper use. However i would still like to point out that the way you are using it refers to the minority of atheists, because most would agree with you. The position "there is no god" is as indefensible as "there is a god."

      July 4, 2011 at 4:24 pm |
    • P

      Jon, That's a good point. In my experience that is true (with people I've met), however there are groups that identify themselves as atheists (as the group mentioned in the article does) that are well aware of what they are saying, and to them my comment was made. I do recognize that the average 'atheist' is more of an agnostic.

      July 4, 2011 at 4:31 pm |
    • P

      Isaac, I would argue yes. Asserting that something does or does not exist when it can't be proven requires a level of faith. This faith is what Christians are attacked for.

      July 4, 2011 at 4:32 pm |
    • P

      err, that last comment wasn't for Isaac it was for free

      July 4, 2011 at 4:33 pm |
    • wayh

      "P"..... Athiesm is NOT a 'belief' in anything! It is the KNOWLEDGE that no God exists! We do not have 'faith', we express knowledge.
      The sad matter is, that in a supposedly 'free' country where one is supposed to have 'freedom of religion', one has to fear for one's life for simply stating that he or she does not believe in a god!

      July 4, 2011 at 4:35 pm |
    • P

      " It is the KNOWLEDGE that no God exists!"

      are you serious? please elaborate, I'm curious to hear your proof.

      July 4, 2011 at 4:37 pm |
    • Qrius

      Hey stupid-P, here's your proof: 100 percent lack of proof to the contrary. That is damn good proof and verifiable as well.

      July 4, 2011 at 4:48 pm |
    • Free

      P
      Tell me, do many Christians tell people that they actually have 'faith' that none of the other gods are real, or do they simply enjoy the global atheism that has long ago ruled these characters as mythical creations?

      July 4, 2011 at 5:09 pm |
    • Free

      Qrius
      Yes, it's like saying that we will operate under the working assumption that people cannot actually turn into wolves until such time as we have evidence that they can. Which is not to say that a certain number of superst.itious, and easily frightened, people won't still be afraid of werewolves anyway. Someone like P might call that an irrational fear, but what right would he have in doing so if werewolves are as likely as God?

      July 4, 2011 at 5:29 pm |
  16. JohnRJohnson

    I think that promoting atheism is as silly as promoting religion. This campaign should be about treating everybody equally, regardless of what they believe.

    July 4, 2011 at 4:09 pm |
    • Willowspring

      AMEN! and thank you !!

      July 4, 2011 at 4:11 pm |
  17. RichardSRussell

    Research results: Please be aware that CNN will not post a message containing the word c o c k a m a m i e.

    I'm still trying to figure out why some of my other comments ran afoul of the nannybot. I did discover that it helps, when referring to the "sky spoook" to intentionally misspell the noun.

    July 4, 2011 at 4:08 pm |
    • Willowspring

      I feel your pain. Most of my comments are "under moderation" Once you are characterized in that way, it Never goes away!. I just chalk it up to CNN being just as biased as any of the other left wing sites.

      July 4, 2011 at 4:13 pm |
    • RichardSRussell

      Willowspring, you are inferring the existence of a malign intelligence behind CNN's seemingly haphazard censorship. You give them way too much credit. There's no person sitting there, forced to read all this stuff. It's just a dumb computer program — a nannybot — that's triggered by a limited set of "naughty" character strings, many of which show up, perfectly innocently, embedded in other words. The nannybot interprets each new message as if it's the 1st thing you've ever posted. It doesn't hold long-term grudges.

      July 4, 2011 at 4:43 pm |
    • Frogist

      @RichardSRussell: There is a poster named Reality who posts a list of danger words that are censored. If you try other articles you might find his full list. But it generally consists of words that have other naughty words in them. Const!tution is a big one. (The word t!t is in there! Shhh!) Also any word with c-um... circ-umstance. And any words that have se-x in them... hom-ose-xuality is a double since it also has the perjorative ho-mo... The full list is floating around. It's long and hilarious.

      July 5, 2011 at 6:13 pm |
  18. Jim

    Why do people buy guns? To "protect themselves from criminals".
    Why do genocides happen? To protect ourselves from "the others".
    Why do people get caught up in religion? To protect themselves from death.
    Fear of the unknown drives us all.

    July 4, 2011 at 4:08 pm |
  19. Melissa

    The atheists are right.

    July 4, 2011 at 4:07 pm |
  20. AnAtheist

    Some quotes to live by...

    "I don't want to believe, I want to know." – Carl Sagan

    "I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason and intellect has intended us to forego their use." – Galileo

    "Every man is guilty of all the good he did not do." – Voltaire

    "Extraordinary claims, require extraordinary evidence" – Carl Sagan

    July 4, 2011 at 4:01 pm |
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